WHO Guide to Mental and Neurological Health in Primary Care
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Homepage :: Legal issues :: Use of the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 :: Before the assessment

Before the assessment

Information is an important component of the assessment.

  • If you can access your records, check for previous history and response to treatment, risk of neglect, violence or self-harm, and any known contact names.
  • If there is a relative or informant, ask about the recent situation, its duration, whether there is any support, whether there have been threats or violence and if the patient is known to carry or have access to weapons.
  • Contact the duty ASW. An ASW might be essential (in order to make the application) or desirable in order to support and advises the relative who is making the application. Liaise with the ASW about directions, access to premises, where to meet, and the need for police attendance.
  • Where no ASW is involved, liaise with the nearest relative or other informant about directions, access to premises, and the need for police attendance. Bring forms 1 and 3 with you (available from the H&SS Trust [Health and Social Services Trust]). Arrange police attendance, if necessary.
  • It is good practice (because it is safer, communication is better and disruption of the patient is minimized) for the professionals involved in the application for admission to be present at the same time (although it might be helpful for each to interview the patient separately). Everyone involved should be aware of the need to provide mutual support. In any case, the applicant - whether relative or ASW - must have seen the patient within two days of signing the application and the doctor must examine the patient not less than two days before signing the application.

If the patient is suffering from the short-term effect of drugs, alcohol or sedative medication, discussion should take place about deferring the assessment until a more productive interview can take place.

Last edited: 5/2/2004

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